I haven’t mentioned it here but one of my micro-goals for 2016 is to read one non-fiction book per month and one fiction. I have a lot of back reading to catch up on in the non-fiction area so if I feel like finishing two a month, I’ll let myself. But I’m determined to hold to the one novel a month rule.
On Sunday, I mentioned this to the church librarian, a woman in her fifties with grown kids and a work from home job. “Two books a month?! I could read that many in a day!”
“So could I,” I answered.
This isn’t about me not being much of a reader and forcing myself to read two books a month. This is because if I allow myself to read fiction, I use it as a form of escapism and disappear into it until it’s finished. And if there is a sequel, look out, because I’ll do the same thing with that as well. When I came back from Georgia in 2011, I decided to limit my reading to Christian fiction or classics as the amount of gratuitous sex in most modern secular fiction was totally unpredictable and seemed to show up in even unexpected places. My brain and heart don’t need that so I made the commitment to avoid it. But I also avoided fiction in general for two years or so. I went from reading stacks of books a month to nothing, mostly because I recognized my tendency to escape into fiction and how my real life suffered from it.
In December, possibly when we were sick, I read a Francine Rivers book that I had gotten for free on Kindle quite some time ago. It felt good to read for a day or two but I knew then how easy it would be to get back into old habits and watch my home and family suffer for it. But I don’t feel that reading fiction is wrong – don’t read this the wrong way, please – I just think it should be limited. Personally, I know that I can work on a non-fiction throughout the month and gain from it (non-fiction has never been a form of escapism for me..it’s just not the same) and use novels as a means of rest once a month. I’m not very good at stretching a novel out very long so it does mean that a day or two each month, I’ll be immersed in something and then not read any fiction the rest of the month.
In January, I read the sequel to December’s book and in February, I plan to read a friend’s second novel which I have already bought for my Kindle. I am using my planner/organizer daily and with Sundays being set aside for rest, I can imagine starting a book on Saturday night and finishing it on Sunday. Other Sundays I can nap, use my colouring book, play the Sims (guilty pleasure, I admit) or just hang out with my family.
I have a lot of friends that have very lofty reading goals for the year. Good for them! If they can continue to live in the real world effectively and read that many books, I’m in awe. I just know that personally, my real life is just too full and real to allow myself to escape more than once a month into a fictional world.